Following the tragic shooting on March 9, 2015, in which six people were killed, the Wilkinsburg Sanctuary Project was present the next evening to offer prayer and support to the neighbors on Franklin Avenue. A week later we knocked on the doors of the neighbors and offered them support and prayer. A month later, we were asked by the homeowners to offer a rededication and house cleansing for the home where the tragedy occurred. As important as prayer is, we wanted to do more, so Operation Light on Franklin was born in a partnership between the Wilkinsburg Sanctuary Project, Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation and the Wilkinsburg Youth Project . During the summer we offered a Community Work Day, as well as six weeks of youth working on the street, to give a face lift to the brave neighbors on Franklin Avenue. We boarded up abandoned homes, repaired concrete steps, painted railings, hauled garbage, cut back vegetation on the alley behind Franklin Avenue and installed address numbers on every home that requested them. Then in October, we returned with volunteers from as far away as Bethany, West Virginia to do a fall clean up, more repair work, painting and landscaping. At the end of each work day, we held a luncheon and a prayer vigil in which members of the Christian and Muslim community were present to pray for peace with our neighbors on Franklin Avenue.
The name Operation Light on Franklin was created by the youth as a way of recognizing that the light has always been on Franklin Avenue where neighbor truly cares for neighbor. Our mission was to come alongside the neighbors and help them rebuild their block and their hope in a community free of gun violence.